Welcome! I really enjoy exchanging information with people and love that this blog helps with that. I consider much of my research as a work in progress, so please let me know if you have conflicting information. Some of the surnames I'm researching:

Many old Cape families including Kelley, Eldredge/idge, Howes, Baker, Mayo, Bangs, Snow, Chase, Ryder/Rider, Freeman, Cole, Sears, Wixon, Nickerson.
Many old Plymouth County families including Washburn, Bumpus, Lucas, Cobb, Benson.
Johnson (England to MA)
Corey (Correia?) (Azores to MA)
Booth, Jones, Taylor, Heatherington (N. Ireland to Quebec)
O'Connor (Ireland to MA)
My male Mayflower ancestors (only first two have been submitted/approved by the Mayflower Society):
Francis Cooke, William Brewster, George Soule, Isaac Allerton, John Billington, Richard Warren, Peter Browne, Francis Eaton, Samuel Fuller, James Chilton, John Tilley, Stephen Hopkins, and John Howland.
Female Mayflower ancestors: Mary Norris Allerton, Eleanor Billington, Mary Brewster, Mrs. James Chilton, Sarah Eaton, and Joan Hurst Tilley.
Child Mayflower ancestors: Giles Hopkins, (possibly) Constance Hopkins, Mary Allerton, Francis Billington, Love Brewster, Mary Chilton, Samuel Eaton, and Elizabeth Tilley.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Book Review: The Planters of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1620-1640, by Charles Edward Banks

Book Review: The Planters of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1620-1640, by Charles Edward Banks, 1930, Reprint 2006, Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., Baltimore, MD.

I find a genealogy book that is referred to by the author’s last name rather than the book title to be a good addition to my personal library. I hear “Torrey,” and I know the reference is to Clarence Almon Torrey’s New England Marriages Prior to 1700. For me, Banks falls into this category because his work has been so well regarded for 90 years.

The Planters is a study of emigration in colonial times (1620-1640). It includes lists of passengers to Massachusetts (including Plymouth Colony), the ships which brought them across the sea, passenger place of origin when known, and the initial place settled in Massachusetts. It includes the names of 3,600 passengers on nearly 96 ships. It is the most complete and authoritative collection of passenger ships from this period ever published. The book has invaluable indices of surnames, place names and ship names.

Banks’ preface clarifies the use of the word “Planter,” which during this time was used not in an agricultural sense, but rather they were men (and often their amilies) who came to “plant” an English colony.  

This book, however, is not just passenger lists. In one section Banks breaks down the immigrants by county of origin, with Sussex having the heaviest emigration. One interesting example is the parish of Hingham in Norfolk only had a few hundred families, yet 35 families migrated to found the town of Hingham, Massachusetts.

Another aspect of this book I appreciate is that Banks includes information on ships even when the passenger list is unknown. If you have a rough idea of when your ancestor migrated, you can come up with some possibilities by perusing the book.

In my research I often see the ship and year an ancestor emigrated, but Banks often fleshes that out with other facts such as the master of the ship, where it departed from, and length of the voyage. It is also worthwhile to look at a passenger list to see other surnames that might be connected to your family. I made a great discovering reading the book…the name of a 9th great-grandmother I have long-neglected jumped off the page. She was listed with her unknown (to me) parents. Bingo!

 There is nothing fancy about my copy of The Planters from Genealogical Publishing Company which gave me the book to review. It has a basic paperback binding. I prefer genealogy books in printed format rather than reading it on my computer or phone screen. An exception is for massive works such as Torrey’s 12-volume New England Marriages Prior to 1700, which I prefer to reference online! Genealogical Publishing offers family historians a way to obtain genealogy and local history books at a reasonable price. For instance at the time I write this an online bookseller is selling a 1930 hardcover of the Planters for $90 plus shipping. Genealogical Publishing sells a paperpack copy for $31, or you can purchase an eBook version at a lower cost.

 Please comment with your go-to books for New England research!



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I'm now moderating comments on this blog. My apologies for any ensuing delays, but the large number of "spam" comments have made this necessary. ~Chris